Tariffs, a simple yet effective tool to tailored energy management decisions

Tariffs, a simple yet effective tool to tailored energy management decisions

Continuous variation in electricity demand leads to power supply instability, which leads to energy price fluctuations which can significantly impact businesses. In the face of this uncertainty, unlocking a flexible demand response is key to effective energy management. This starts with a comprehensive study of energy consumption habits unique to each customer.

For this purpose, tariffs can be a very simple yet flexible tool. ABB EQ meters with this feature allow for more complete system analysis by directing the energy flow into different registers according to preset criteria. In addition, tariffs can be incorporated in advanced metering infrastructures for measuring, monitoring, and even automating energy distribution systems. This is the result of the meter’s ability to precisely collect and store energy values. 

To better understand the potential of this feature, we will explore its three main schemes of use: 1) time of use, 2) energy source and 3) energy user schemes. 

1. Time of Use scheme – Measuring to counter fluctuating prices   

The way utilities encourage energy conservation during peak periods is via variable pricing. To energy users, this means that the price is time-varying according to peak and off-peak demand periods.

In this context, a multi-tariff meter comes in handy as it can track electrical usage during different time periods of the day and week. The meter relies on its internal clock or any command received by an input or communication protocol to know the right time to switch from a register to another to count the kilowatts-hours being consumed.

So, why rely on a Time of Use scheme? An appropriately designed time of use scheme allows the user to study when the energy is being consumed in order to make conscious energy management decisions, according to the pricing information available. With accurate and regular measurements, businesses can anticipate the bill and adjust their time of consumption habits to avoid peak periods, ultimately reducing energy related costs.  

2. Energy source scheme – Regulating supply on consumption

Today, a number of alternative energy sources is offered to energy consumers: from a growing range of renewables, like solar and wind power, to power generators. Energy users can now interconnect different sources to achieve greater reliability of the overall power system by compensating for unexpected failures and allowing energy users to save or even produce energy whenever possible.

In an interconnected system, tariffs can be set to track the amount of energy supplied by different sources. In this case, the meter, serving as a tool in the smart system, will distinguish multiple flows of energy. For instance, by configuring tariffs through inputs or communication protocols, the meter will differentiate the amount of energy coming from utilities, rather than a solar photovoltaic system or diesel generator. This allows businesses to track the usage of their energy sources, gathering data useful to reduce costs and to consciously plan investments on power-generating technologies.    

3. Energy user scheme – Adjusting loads to accommodate supply

Along with new energy sources, new loads and wider energy systems were also created. Each load type in the system has different requirements in terms of power consumption. From there comes the necessity to evaluate the energy needs of different appliances.

Tariffs can be very useful to study the load side of a network. Via inputs or communication protocols, tariffs can be configured in such a way that will allow switching from a register to another, distinguishing the amount of energy consumed by different loads. This allows operators to spot the most energy consuming appliances or users and adjust habits accordingly. 

ABB Solution    

“You can’t manage what you don’t monitor” is a timeless rule that applies to energy consumption. ABB’s approach to energy efficiency starts from an all-round study of the system. A simple task such as configuring tariff registers on the meter can unlock a detailed picture of consumption in terms of energy quantity, source, and allocation.

Tariffs are available on ABB EQ meters with Silver, Gold and Platinum functionalities allowing the configuration of up to four different tariffs, while on M4M 30 network analyzers it is possible to configure up to six tariffs. More specifically, tariffs can be controlled by different sources as the built-in clock, digital inputs, and communication protocols available on the meters.

On the other side of larger applications, System Pro M Compact InSite is the most complete ABB sub-distribution solution.

The solution enables a full analysis of historical data including different energy consumption schemes as Time-Of-Use, the energy source and energy user scheme, to compare and optimize performance and to implement additional automated actions based on the measured parameters.

This makes it possible to put into practice modern energy management strategies that can support customers in finding opportunities to save on costs while staying specific to their consumption habits.  


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